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REPS THREATEN TO JAIL AGF OVER AUDIT QUERIES

By NBF News
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House of Representatives committee on Public Accounts yesterday threatened to jail the Accountant-General of the Federation, Mr. Jonah Otunla over his failure to respond to over 200 audit queries from the Auditor-General of the Federation.

The lawmakers handed the threat when Otunla appeared before the committee in Abuja, ending speculations that he might not appear.

Chairman of the committee, Hon. Solomon Adeola came down hard on the AGF for failing to respond to audit queries on his office for 2005 through 2009 which he said, were rife with discrepancies in figures.

'There are discrepancies between what agencies were to get and what was released. There were many cases of grants and aids that were not accounted for. We're not doing the nation any good by having queries from the Auditor-General lying unanswered,' remarked Adeola.

Apparently reacting to earlier unsuccessful attempts to make the AGF appear before the committee, a member, Hon. Asita Honourable said the AGF saved the day by appearing.

He disclosed that the committee was on the verge of prosecuting the AGF. He said: 'We asked you to bring documents to respond to audit queries from the Auditor-General and to appear before the committee, but you refused. The law stipulates a fine of N50 or a jail term of three months.

You have contravened the law which makes for fine or imprisonment.' Another member, Hon. Odeneye Olusegun held that the AGF's failure to appear was deliberate, saying he may have underestimated the powers of legislative summons. A mild drama played out as the AGF errorneously presented papers meant for the Senate Committee.

This drew the ire of the lawmakers, prompting the AGF to tender apologies. 'I take full responsibility for every lapse or mistake made here and I want to tender an apology for the shortcomings. I cannot disown the reports. I plead for one week to rectify the perceived errors in the report', he pleaded.